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14th Nov 2016

John Kavanagh names the challenger he wants next for Conor McGregor

No shortage of options

Darragh Murphy

When Conor McGregor next takes to the scales on the eve of a fight, will it be at 145lbs, 155lbs or 170lbs?

There are rivals in all three weight divisions who would be ready, willing and able to take on ‘The Notorious’ and sign the most lucrative bout agreement of their career.

At featherweight, interim champion Jose Aldo is still waiting for his rematch with the Irishman while McGregor spent Friday getting into skirmishes with welterweight champ Tyron Woodley.

At lightweight, the division of which McGregor became king with his stunning knockout of Eddie Alvarez on Saturday, we’ve got the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov, the streaking Tony Ferguson and the narrative-rich Nate Diaz.

While we don’t know who McGregor wants, or even when we’ll see the Dubliner compete again, we do know the match-up that his head coach John Kavanagh would be pushing for.

“I’m going to give you my small opinion. I think the second best 145lber is Max Holloway, that’s my opinion, and I think the second best 155lber is Nate Diaz, that’s my opinion,” Kavanagh said on the MMA Hour.

“I think Nate would beat either Tony or Khabib. I think he really turned a corner in the Michael Johnson fight. I think we saw a new version of him.

UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz

“He looked fantastic in both Conor fights, Conor just bested him. That’s my opinion – my small, unimportant opinion. There’s no need to tweet me your opinions. He asked me for mine, I’m just giving it.

“That’s who I think the two best guys are.

“I understand Khabib is the number one contender and it’s probably going to be him if that’s how the company works.

“But for me, interest-wise, the Nate fight would interest me greater because of that.

“If it’s Tony or if it’s Khabib then great. They’re two fantastic fighters. There’d be a lot to learn in the preparation for them and both would be extremely interesting fights to watch and problems to solve and to see Conor beating both of them and how he does it would be very interesting for me.

“But I do think Nate would be quite a bit better than either of them.”

Diaz and McGregor exchanged in a pair of wars in 2016, with the series record tied at 1-1.

The Stockton scrapper handed McGregor his first UFC defeat before ‘The Notorious’ rebounded and avenged that loss with a majority decision victory at UFC 202 in August.

Nurmagomedov and Ferguson are crying out for a shot at the lightweight title but Kavanagh insists that neither are as good a fighter as Diaz and therefore believes he should get the fight.

“If I had the magic buttons to press and, as a fan, that’s the fight that would interest me the most,” Kavanagh continued.

“I just think for me, he provides the most interesting set of problems.

UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz

“Khabib is a great fighter, I really enjoy his fights. I enjoy watching and learning from them but I just thought in the opening two or three minutes of the Johnson fight, we saw what would happen if he was to face Conor.

“He got tagged quite a bit and with the power and accuracy that Conor brings – I’m sure Eddie had a great plan until 60 seconds in when he got scrambled – and I don’t think it would go massively different if he was to face him.

“Tony gets hit a lot as well. He’s a super tough guy who keeps coming forward, a great fighter. But I think it would go that way.

“With Nate, he’s just such a good boxer. If I take away circumstances, the Diaz II fight is my favourite fight. It’s the one I keep watching.”

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